first amendment

Has the Power of Social Media Become a Threat to Freedom of Speech?

In an excellent post, John Hayward made a series of fantastic points about the current situation we face in modern political discourse. His suspicion was that liberals are using social media to neuter conservatives in order to restore the liberal control of our sources of news.

In his August 7 post, Hayward reminded readers how blogs shattered the lock on political news way back in 2004 when they really broke out as the newest form of political discussion. Indeed, they did. I was actually part of that very scene, myself. In those days political groups were clamoring to get the ear of prominent bloggers and many of us were flown all across the country for events and meetings.

I have to say, between 2004 and 2012 or so I was visiting Washington at least half a dozen times a year for one thing or another all tied to my blogging. Conservative organizations were thrilled to finally have a way around the old media complex and to reach people directly.

It didn’t last, of course. Blogging eventually faded from prominence. But the fact is blogging broke the back of the “guild” of the old media and opened up the media for conservatives to get their message out from a place other than talk radio where only a handful of voices could be heard.

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Since then, the left has hoped for a way to destroy conservative speech and, as Hayward notes, social media seems to be that avenue.

In his piece, Hayward said:

Social media became an instrument to restore the power of the guild. As websites grew dependent on a few big social platforms for clicks, a leash that could tame the seemingly uncontrollable blogs was forged.

This is an interesting assertion and if what we are seeing today is any indication, Hayward is right. The left has reasserted its full control over what you see and hear by maintaining a lock over what is “allowed” on social media.

Indeed, locking conservatives out of social media even skirts the problems with the First Amendment that would be extent with government interfering in free speech, Hayward noted.

Instead of having government do it — where the control is at the mercy of court cases and interfering Republican legislation — liberal control of social media is less open to meddling by conservatives.

“Unelected guilds and mob actions give the Left control over speech without fear of losing elections or running into the 1st Amendment. They also confer the power to define terms, which is how government power can be bent to the Left even when it loses elections,” Hayward presciently noted.

Hayward continued:

Losing control over the phrase “Fake News” was a rare loss for the Left in the battle to define terms. They want to take it back so they can decide what constitutes “Fake News” and enforce policies that effectively ban it, ideally without a 1st Amendment case reaching SCOTUS.

Left-wing activists are not afraid of establishing non-governmental guild controls that would effectively ban “fake news,” “hate speech,” “dangerous ideas,” etc. because they are confident they will define those terms. The sword of New Censorship is not double edged.

They have good reason for believing that. Look at the social media landscape right now. Look at the vile hatred and even incitements to violence on the Left that go serenely undisturbed. No major left-wing org or news network needs to worry about deplatforming or shadow-banning.

Wrapping up, Hayward concluded that it is similar to how big business secretly loves oppressive regulations because they can afford to put up with the government annoyances while their smaller competitors are destroyed by it all. Liberals love it when “insurmountable barriers” are erected to keep the little guy out of control and under the big guy’s thumb.

So, how does the liberal control of social media do all that? Hayward concludes:

How do you squash the blog revolution of 2004? By making it very difficult for anyone outside the guild and its approved politics to attract a huge audience, and very easy for insiders to do so. You make the little outsider afraid to even TRY. And here we are.

That is 100 percent right. If you eliminate the reach your enemy’s words can achieve, you effectively control the narrative and ensure that your ideas will reach the largest audience.

That is exactly whet these anti-American liberals are doing by controlling social media and preventing conservative voices from attracting an audience.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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